Sunday, August 31, 2014

Showdown at Corriganville

What is going on here? A Duel in the Dust? High Noon at Vendetta Village? The Corriganville Incident? No, but the MTB CX Eliminator - Dual in the Dirt Duathlon Series combined the best showdown action from any of the old westerns filmed at the rocky site of Corriganville in Simi Valley.

Corriganville's rocky hillsides and shaded draws played host to a series of duels between morning and high noon on the hot Sunday. If left out in the sun too long I am certain some of those saddles were indeed blazing. (Like it or not, and i am sure there have been enough by now, this post is going to be one long series of puns).

Eyes narrowed in the brightness of the morning sun, sweat rose on brows, ran like rivulets of blood down arms, caking legs and faces of those who had already eaten dust during earlier hours. The air was still and tight with tension. Not without precedent, but still rarely seen anymore, the showdown got underway with a hot-footed LeMans start. There was a twist to it though - after the protagonists laid their steads in orderly rows, ready for a quick getaway, the kindly folks watching from the shadows snuck out for a little rearranging. Some mounts were moved, while others were turned in the opposite direction.

Let me explain a little - this was the dual duel part of the morning - teams of two fighting it out in tag-team format. Each rider raced a single lap before strapping a cx ankle timing chip to the leg of their racemate, who went full-bore for the next lap. So riders were switching every pass; this kept the folk at the start/finish well entertained throughout the proceedings. Most pairs raced on mountain bikes though two, or was it three, chose to mount up on their cyclocross bikes.

Much like a cx course, this one was laid out in a similar spectator friendly style. Not quite as tight perhaps, it did wander out to circle around a rocky promontory, but much of the action played out within easy hoofing distance of the stone-walled remains of the old town. The trail taken by the lead outlaw and those who chased in pursuit moved between slick rock and sand-filled depressions. It was a good day for chaps as riders bushwhacked through expanses of buckwheat which clawed at their legs, the hoofs of their mounts seeking traction, while overhead hung the branches of large, majestic oaks, any one likely to host a rope swinging party.

It was while out in those back of course, desolate areas that i would occasionally catch sentences echoing off the rocks. Whether they were spoken today or came from long ago, I couldn't tell. Things like "little sister, I was born game and I intend to go out that way" drifted through the leaves. "To hell with them fellas. Buzzards gotta eat, same as worms" coursed along the dry stream. Those words could have come from the mouths of riders competing today, or they could just as easily have been dredged up by churning wheels, set free from the dirt and dust packed down by the weight of years.

something just short of a chaotic start

Quick draw, hole shot, same thing - only one comes out first

making your way, warily, through a narrow defile. i believe this is where the ambush is supposed to take place

emerging from the sandstone like a hazy mirage came a rider on a pale horse. and hell followed with him

Fast Friday's father / son duo

the tag team part of the game - handing off the timing chip at end of lap

the end came with arms raised in victory, rather than surrender...

and though others made their own hard charges to the line, words rebounding from the rocks mocked those efforts - "you see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend, those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig."

If you are unfamiliar with Corriganville Park, it resides at the eastern end of Simi Valley, below Rocky Peak, an area I have always called Tomac Country. It was long used by Hollywood studios for filming, and was especially favored for westerns. It also catered to tourists and weekend visitors; you could ride horses there, indeed my mum was thrown from the back of one in her younger years, at the very spot. Eventually the sets were dismantled, the film fans left; some foundations and stone/concrete walls remain, but mostly it is a quiet and bucolic spot between cities. There is a terrific interpretive-signed trail with markers pointing out natural points of interest, and others related to the Hollywood era. I am hoping they will do some more races there; when I asked her, Dorothy (whose SoCalCross organization was one of the primary organizers) suggested they might be able to squeeze one in during November. I hope so, it seemed super fun, and if anything could tempt me to break my pledge not to race mountain bikes, it would be this race.

Anyway, I have made you wait this long, but no longer - here is the Flickr link to a select one hundred eleven photos. There are another three hundred fifty or so tucked away on the computer. If you don't quite see what you are looking for at the Flickr album, let me know, and I will see what I can find.

By the by, thanks go out to the Triple Threat / Newbury Park Bicycles folks for letting the wife share their shade tent. Our little dachshund must have picked up a thorn which either worked itself out, or she managed to get out herself. She is back to normal - wanting to go, go, go.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Saturday Options: Riding with the Old Farts

But Mike, "wait" you say right off the bat. "What's up with the 'old farts' crack. Age is a matter of perspective; you ought to know that by now." Correct you are and, kind of, the point. I suspect that none of the members of the Claremont Senior Bicycle Group (CSBG) who did their weekly Saturday morning ride to the Corner Bakery consider themselves to be really "old". Not even the ninety-three year old, recumbent riding doctor who, by the way, can make that low-to-the-ground bike move. Many things we choose to do in life can help to keep us mentally and physically young. Bicycling is certainly near the top of the list.

bike and dog parking at the Corner Bakery

heading up Deer Creek Blvd in Rancho Cucamonga

I have known many of these folks though their active involvement in bicycle (and pedestrian) advocacy within the city, through their endeavors with Cycle Claremont, and because my wife likes riding with them. But I have never actually done one of their regularly scheduled rides. So, with the son away for the weekend, i thought a more relaxed Saturday morning would be a nice change. I was right, it worked out as planned - just under thirty miles with a nice breakfast at the halfway point. The ride follows a route through residential neighborhoods north of Baseline, and then the Pacific Electric Trail (PET) back to home. I have long listed the CSBG in the "local ride list" with only second-hand knowledge of what their rides are like. Not that today's was necessarily indicative of them all. For instance I know the "power group" does some faster paced ones. At least I can now say that I have done one.

along the PET for the ride home


a pathside serenade 

Upcoming: Tour de Foothills 2014

This has already been widely noted, but is there anything wrong with a little reinforcement? The Tour de Foothills is moving to Claremont for the 2014 edition. This year, the annual ride and party will start and conclude in the Village on Saturday 8 November. Four ride distances to choose from, catered lunch from Wolfe's Market, Tour de Brews beerfest, live music, all await riders on that November day. Keep up with all the latest info at the Tour de Foothills Facebook page. As they have done in past years there will be at least one group training ride preceding the main event. Saturday 27 September the TdF teamed with the Bahati Foundation will hold a free training ride beginning and ending at the Dale Bros Brewery - check for info here.

Friday, August 29, 2014

How to Wear a Cycling Cap: Jelle Nijdam

A Buckler cap classically perched. Nijdam rode with the Buckler squad for the 1990, 91 and 92 seasons. During those three years he bagged himself two Tour de France stage wins, one at the Vuelta a Espana, won the Three Days of De Panne, won the Tour of the Netherlands twice, and finished third at Amstel Gold, and second at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. Other career wins, with other teams, include two-time victor of Binche-Tournai-Binche (1990, 1995), four additional stages of the TdF, making six total, the Amstel Gold Race (1988), and Dwars door Vlaanderen (1987, 1995). In 1993 he captured a podium spot (3rd) at the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen, and in 1996 a final podium with a 2nd at Nokere Koerse.

Interestingly, former American pro, Joe Parkin considered Nijdam to be the meanest rider in the peloton: "Definitely Jelle Nijdam. I hated the guy. I got punched by him in races a few times! He didn't care for me much and made it known…" You can read more of that in this 2009 interview at

Was it personal, or was there some kind of bad blood between Dutch and American riders? Can't say i was familiar with the Parkin/Nijdam incident, but the punch to the face of Davis Phinney by Dutchman Michel Zanoli during the 1992 Tour du Pont, was talked up in local pelotons all around the country at the time. I don't recall any particular Dutch / American rivalry going on, so we are probably just talking coincidence, nor was the Davis punch Zanoli's only bout of fisticuffs in that race.

Back to Nijdam, mean or otherwise he is, and has long been, a dedicated cyclist. These days he can be found organizing and leading bicycle tours, both mountain and road, around the Netherlands countryside for Jelle Nijdam Events.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

This Bud's for You, 27 August

Three riders entered the homestretch but somewhere along that road, as they raced from shadow to sun and back to shadow, one faded and only two pushed to the line. If there is such a thing as home course advantage, Incycle riders made the most of it last night. Time clocked past, and It wasn't until after the victory boundary was crossed, when three pair of wheels began the inevitable slow, that the bunch finally came into view. They may have missed out on the podium last evening, but there is still glory to be found in sprinting out of the larger fray. Or, better yet, striking out on your own, leaving the pack to fight over whatever scraps you may have left for them.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cycling Claremont: The Only Good...

Death Valley 2009

A few years ago, while traipsing around Death Valley, we came upon the ruined hulks of old automobiles and trucks. They had this amazing patina of decomposition about them. I snapped some photos and thought they would make for an interesting photo exhibition. I recalled the old racist slogan, "the only good Indian is a dead Indian*" and reinvented it as "the only good car is a dead car." I pictured images of rusted autos out in the middle of nowhere, stacked up in junk yards, torn apart by the jaws of life, or like the one below, repurposed.

The installation "Sam Falls, Untitled (Life in California) 2014" (the Ford Ranger made over as a planter) is a part of the exhibit "Project Series 49: Sam Falls" at the Pomona College Museum of Art. The Sam Falls exhibit is only one on display at the Museum; another of interest is "Petrochemical America", a collaborative effort between photographer Richard Misrach and landscape architect Kate Orff, which examines the industrial landscape of the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, so-called "Cancer Alley".

The Museum reopens on September 2nd following the Summer break, but Thursday, September 4th from 5:00 to 11:00 will mark the beginning of a new season of Art After Hours, and is a great opportunity to see the exhibits and visit the museum. Music, ice cream sunday bar, raffles and prizes round out the evening. Get your lights charged up and ride on over. There is no admission fee to the Museum.

*the pop version of what General Phillip H. Sheridan is reported to have actually said: "The only good Indians I ever saw were dead." He denied making the statement.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday Blues: Dumping

It is bad enough when some small-brained person dumps their stuff beside the road in the mountains, but then to have the cliff do the same directly onto the roadway is just salt to the wound. I came across two consecutive dumpings at two consecutive bends on San Dimas Canyon Road over the weekend. If there is any justice, maybe the second dumping was karmic, the mountainside getting even with dumper number one.

Watch your heads out there - the walls may be tumbling down.

Blue: A color, a mood or emotion, a genre of music. Tune in each Monday for another installment of the Blues, with a cycling twist.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Swap Aficianado

Question: What do Eddy Merckx, Ernesto Colnago, John Tomac, Lotus, de Rosa, Lemond all have in common? Answer: They were among the stand out monikers to be seen gracing frames, and complete bikes, at today's Bicycle Aficianado Swapmeet in Los Angeles. 

I knew it was going to happen. I knew there was going to be plenty i would have been happy to buy. And so i came prepared. I brought only a limited amount of cash stuffed down into my pockets. There would be no going overboard. I walked through the gates with priorities; the Hakkalugi being at the top of the list. What could i find to help move the rebuild along? There was a white Ritchie WCS stem - i would have bought that right away … a few months ago. Orange Jagwire cable and housing set was exactly what i want. It seemed to be retail price though, and i decided it was something i could get through my LBS. The binder full of stickers and frame decals was awesome to look through, but no Basso stuff to be seen. 

The place was a treasure trove of vintage Campy. If someone were outfitting period correct bikes, they could easily have found what they needed to build-out multiple models, all in a single stop. In all, i would say there were a good thirteen to fifteen sellers packed into the space, and an ever evolving hoard of bargain hunters looking for a deal on what they thought they might need, or at least want to have. Besides the stem and housing, i looked at wheel sets, seat posts, derailleurs, saddles, star nuts, "Campagnolo Spoken Here" stickers, quick release skewers, and various other odds and ends. Unfortunately, at least for the buyers, that is how the morning resolved itself, with me doing a lot of looking, but absolutely no buying. It was a good swap though, one i will certainly make an effort to get back to next time. You can ensure you don't miss the next one, and join me down there, by liking Bicycle Aficianado on Facebook.



Cool little space for a bike swap to begin with, but that guy in the corner, underneath the vines had the best spot, and a bunch of vintage stuff

bike swap

is it swim time yet?

this sparkling gold Lotus was flanked by a beautiful Colnago and the red Eddy you see on the right. On the other side of the Merckx was another Colnago and a Lemond. Quite a lineup to say the least. It was the Lotus that most grabbed my attention though, and i will share some more photos of it soon.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Colors of the Season

Think about August. The Dog Days. Unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere, you may be thinking of the twin burden of heat and humidity. Maybe you are thinking of shorter days; the earlier sunset may be only slightly perceptible right now, but you do notice it. It is no trick, you are running short of afterwork daylight. Then there is the start up of schools; what used to be delayed until after the Labor Day weekend, has now encroached well into August in some areas. The start up of the school year is always accompanied by a big uptick in motor vehicle traffic, and who looks forward to that?

This time of year i tend to search for the little things that make my rides more pleasant. A ride this past Friday turned out to be less than i had hoped for, but the Buckwheat was pretty spectacular in its rusty hue. Likewise, the bunch grasses in the midst of their summer hibernation, were golden from certain angles, simply straw-colored from others. You have heard the saying, "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade", well even on typical, familiar, uneventful rides you can sometimes find extraordinary things.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Upcoming: Bike 'n Hike, and El Grande Fondo Warm-up

Both this weekend, regrettably both on the same day, so you will need to choose one or the other. Regrettably, both on a day during which my time will the otherwise occupied with house repair work many miles away.

The first option is the Pomona Valley Bike Coalition's Bike and Hike to Fish Canyon Falls. This is the advocacy groups second time doing this one and, though i failed to make the first one either, it proved to be a hit with those who were more fortunate. The ride portion is approximately thirty-six miles round trip between Claremont and Azusa, and back to Claremont; the hike portion is about five miles. Check out the event page for more information. If the distance seems too much, there are shuttle options.

Your second option is the third in the Grande Fondo training series, hosted by Jon Riddle. Unless you are on Jon's email list, this one may not have crossed your computer screen. The October date for the 100 mile, 10,000 foot El Grande Fonde de Los Angeles Crest is approaching. To prepare, riders who may want to do the Fondo can participate in a series of training rides leading up to the big event. The ride this Saturday (tomorrow) will start at the Sylmar/San Fernando Metrolink Station (8:30, ride at 9:00) and follow a route through Little Tujunga Canyon, into Santa Clarita, and back through the Newhall Pass. A good solid ride of forty-six miles, and about thirty-eight hundred feet of elevation gain. You are strongly encouraged to RSVP at

Whether you do one of these, or something completely different, have yourselves a great weekend.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Jack Johnson Bike Valet

Going to a SoCal Jack Johnson concert? Go by bike and partake of the free bike valet. Pre-check you bike here, or wait and do it at the show.

This Bud's For You, 20 August

It had been a while since last i saw so many racers still in the game so late in the ride/race. It was as if the approaching dark times had instilled some late-season inspiration into the combatants. From a couple hundred meters out it was still a full stampede, but in closing the gap to the line three emerged in the clear. With some encouraging yells, and maybe some threats, from teammates now out of the hustle and consigned to watching from behind the action, the three became two. One final, out of the saddle, burst of speed brought the one to the line - to this week's victor, this Bud's for you.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Overdue Payment

This has been overdue since the day after the Tour of California rolled through the local mountains. While walking around Mountain High, i noticed numerous others doing the same. The difference between them and myself was they had a Champion Systems musette slung over a shoulder and i did not. I quickly clickity-clacked with my bike over to the company tent to see about resolving the problem. When i inquired they said "no way, Jose", but we will let you buy one for $25.00 or whatever the price was. $25 for a thin pocket of cloth and a narrow strap, thanks, but no. I went back and cried to the wife about my ill-fortune. 

The wife has a way of talking her way into things that i will never possess, nor understand. After a few minutes of haggling she came back and presented me with the musette shown below. I asked her how much blood they wanted, and was told all i had to do to even the score was post on the blog.

Four months later, here it is.

What can i say about Champion Systems? Not a lot actually, my experience with the company has been pretty minimal, to be honest. However, the team kit supplied by them from two (2) years ago, still remains my most worn biking attire (see blog profile photo), with little or no noticeable stretching or sagging. Some of the day-glo yellow on the jersey back, the area that takes the brunt of the suns harmful rays has faded (which may not be all bad), but the other colors remain bold. After whatever thousands of miles have been ridden in them, the zippers still work, seams are still holding, bib straps are still snug, and the elastic cuffs have not stretched out of shape. Clearly some quality stuff. So, thanks Champion Systems. Payment is made.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

How to Wear a Cycling Cap: Maurizio Fondriest

One thing about those old leather hairnets, cycling caps fit over them just fine. Another thing, rain. There is just enough brim to keep it out of your eyes.

Fondriest wearing the jersey of World Champion

Fondriest was one of the ever-ready Italian riders of the late 1980s to mid 1990s. 1993 was has his most successful and accounts for a great percentage of the wins filling out his palmares. Those wins that year included Milan-San Remo, la flèche Wallonne, Tirreno-Adriatico (including two stages), Grand Prix de Zurich, the Midi Libre (including three stages), a stage of the Giro d'Italia, and the overall in the now-defunct World Cup competition (he was also World Cup champion in 1991). The most significant win of this career may have come in 1988, when he won the World Road Championship.

It was just in 2013 when Bradley Wiggins noted in an interview with Cycling Weekly that, as a youngster, he watched Fondriest race and hoped to, one day, be able to ride as elegantly.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Summer Interlude: Hiking to the Big Horn

Bicycling is great, no question about it, but don't neglect an occasional interlude to partake of other activities you enjoy. This years Summer Interlude has come toward the end of the season, and involved a short hike though the forest, exploring some mining remains, and lunch at the Grizzly Cafe.

Years ago i bought a copy of John Robinson's Trails of the Angeles, and ever since then have wanted to take the hike to the Big Horn Mine on the slopes of Mt. Baden-Powell. Since the wife wanted to take a hike for her birthday weekend, i suggested we do this one followed by lunch in the mountain community of Wrightwood. Since the idea got thumbs up from both her and the son, the plan was a go.

The trail to the mine remains and web of tunnels is an easy one, maybe a little too easy. There is little obstacle to discouraging vandals from the taking short trip. Most of the graffiti is confined to concrete surfaces, but rock faces, wood beams, and even rusted iron have been defaced by people with little brains. I have avoided posting photos of the worst of the markings.

The lode mines of the Big Horn rest at the 6900 foot level of Mt. Baden-Powell, the second highest peak in the San Gabriel Mountains. Gold was discovered in 1894 by Charles Vincent Daugherty, a fugitive who used the alias Charles Tom Vincent. Vincent was a prospector and hunter who, like many others, had long searched for the mother lode which fed the placer mines of the East Fork far below. Vincent sold his discovery to a group of investors who developed the network of tunnels, built a stamp mill, and made other improvements over a period of about ten years. From 1904 to 1906 alone, the mine yielded some $40,000 in gold. Eventually,  the veins played out and the mine was abandoned.

Today, the wood and iron remains of the stamp mill is the prominent feature at the end of the trail. Various tunnel entrances and ventilation shafts pock the mountainside around the mill. In fact the trail passes one easily accessed, though flooded tunnel along the way. The stream exiting the barricaded tunnel provides perfect conditions for some red-petaled Monkey Flower. Just before reaching the mill stand in front of the barricaded ventilation shafts and enjoy the natural air conditioning coming out of the mountains depths. A trail continues past the mill, though getting to it involves climbing over the creaking remains and weathered scaffolding to the main mine entrance, and then down. Let your head be your guide, and don't do it if you are at all apprehensive. This trail continues around the mountain, along some very steep, and often slippery, slopes to some more mine tunnel entryways. All the tunnels i came across were barricaded with steel beams. 

A second big attraction of this hike are the views - down into Vincent and Mine Gulches, across to Mt. Baldy, Dawson Peak and the Prairie Fork. Even as dry as it has been lately, the mountainsides are surprisingly green.

one of many chutes of scree and boulders scaring the faces of Baden-Powell

big support beams and posts outside the main tunnel portal

rails beyond the reach of my flash

Prairie Fork, Dawson Peak, Mt. Baldy, Pine Mountain Ridge (i believe) and twisted iron rails

mill tower

i did not ascend that ladder

stamp mill

i did not descend that ladder (or whatever it was)

moon over Baden-Powell

the son would not play along with the goofy parents by this point


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